Take a Load Off Robbie

Robbie RobertsonThe captain of the HMS Beagle when Darwin did his research, Robert FitzRoy was born on this day in 1805. He’s been portrayed as a bad guy because he didn’t accept Darwin’s theories, but FitzRoy was a good, if not a great man. He was an important meteorologist and a publicly minded man, if limited by the mores of his time. On the other side of the Atlantic was a man I don’t really have anything good to say about. But I did James Anthony Bailey the other day, so I’m forced to admit that P. T. Barnum was born in 1810. The great French writer Jean Cocteau was born in 1889. Pioneering Russian puppeteer Sergey Obraztsov was born in 1901. And composer George Rochberg was born in 1918. Here is his Caprice Variations played with much vigor by violinist Gidon Kremer (who is really good here and everywhere). Look, I know this piece is not easy. But if you stick with it and go with it, I think you’ll find it enjoyable. There is a method to all the madness. It is just that it is a highly dissonant piece:

Comedic actor Katherine Helmond is 85 today. Huey Lewis is 63. And Terry Chimes of The Class is 57.

Not much of a day for birthdays, which is why it belongs to the guitarist and songwriter Robbie Robertson who is 70 today. I mostly really like him for writing the great song “The Weight.” Here he is with The Band from The Last Waltz:

Happy birthday Robbie Robertson!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “Take a Load Off Robbie

  1. Well, the Staples Singers need no introduction and were stars in their own right. But I just read about a new documentary called "Twenty Feet From Stardom," about the backup singers (mostly Black women) who made songs like "Gimme Shelter" or the Wall Of Sound so terrific.

    I won’t see it until it comes out on video (the local theater that shows documentaries is a pain to get to on the bus) but I’m putting it in the Netflix queue for sure. One definite plus about Netflix streaming; they have a lot of documentaries available, often before they’re released on DVDs the library can buy. Not that I need to see things fast, but my library wish list is already maxed out, so any time I can check a movie off the list it makes room for more books . . .

    As a pure amateur who has no musical training or ear, Levon Helm and Rick Danko are definitely two of my favorite vocalists, ever. And Helm’s not a bad actor, either!

  2. @JMF – That sounds good. I will look for it. And you are right about Netflix. I was amazed that I got to see [i]Six Broken Cameras[/i] before the Academy Awards. [i]Hot Coffee[/i] is now on Instant Watch, if you haven’t seen it.

  3. Yeah — I just got the Netflix streaming to watch "AD," but I’m thrilled with the documentaries available. My final verdict on "AD"; good, but too much buildup for a not-spectacular finish. The best original episodes culminated in a terrific joke that pulled it all together in the end. In the 2013 version, the terrific jokes came at random moments, sometimes in the middle of episodes (I liked the Gob as "Entourage" and the Buster ones especially), so the finale was somewhat a drag, like a huge setup with no punchline. Great stuff, though, I hope they do more.

    My uncle testified in the McDonald’s case. His company made the lids to those coffee cups, and specifically told McDonald’s not to serve the coffee too hot or the cups would warp and the lids wouldn’t fit properly. Of course, even having been a part of this famous example of corporate malfeasance, my uncle’s a staunch conservative, big gummint evil, private enterprise great, etc, etc. No convincing some people.

    From Docurama (same distributor that released the movies you mentioned) there’s a horrible, fascinating one called "You’ve Been Trumped." It’s basically "Local Hero" (and the documentary references that film); Donald Trump comes to Scotland to rape the landscape for his exclusive golf resort, while some residents resist. Not a happy ending, but less depressing than "Cameras," and illustrates that guys like Trump are essentially sociopaths — more invested in demeaning others than they are in making money. Normally not a film I’d suggest to anyone (it’s not cheerful) but, hey, if you can watch "Cameras," you can watch this.

    It’s odd. If I watch a disturbing fiction movie with the SO, the SO has nightmares. But the SO can watch disturbing documentaries with no problems, while I get nightmares from those movies.

    I think it’s because at one point I tried making low-budget movies, and so when I see fiction movies I respond as a brewer would to a bottle of beer; how are the technical aspects, etc. Documentaries, even the saddest ones, make the SO happy because the people involved get the opportunity to tell their stories. I lose my objectivity concerning technical aspects and get wrapped up in the story; do the good guys win? (And few documentaries are made where the good guys win.)

    Different people react to things in different ways; nothing wrong with that.

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